The Redskins petition – and what it does (and doesn’t) mean

25 May 2014

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It was interesting to see that 49 United States senators signed a petition pointing out that the nickname of the NFL’s Washington Redskins is racist and urging the NFL to push the team to change their name. (Yes, I know that the graphic above says 50, and that it’s been reported in the news as 50. I’ve seen the petition and counted the signatures; it has 49 of them.) My immediate reaction was that this was a pretty damning indictment – nearly HALF the U.S. Senate saying you should do something is a pretty strong hint.

But then I looked into two things: the petition, and the signers. First of all, the petition is completely non-binding – it only “urges” Roger Goodell and the National (dramatic pause) Football League to “endorse a name change.” It only carries what I believe in legal circles is called “the force of moral suasion” – and given that these are politicians we’re talking about here, I don’t know how much moral force that really carries.

And second, there’s the matter of who signed it. There’s an online copy of the petition (you can take a gander at it here), showing specifically who put their John Hancocks on this piece. I recognized a lot of the names immediately … but I also realized a lot of big senatorial names weren’t on it. And the more I started looking, the more I started suspecting what might be missing … Read the rest of this entry »

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The NFL coaching carousel, and who’s getting thrown off it

12 December 2011

(Another sinus bug, Thanksgiving, my 42nd birthday, life in general … and I end up gone from the blogosphere for another couple of weeks.  To paraphrase Remy the rat from Ratatouille, “I think it’s apparent that I need to rethink my blog a little bit.”  More on that in the coming weeks.  In the meantime, how about some football?)

Today, the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs fired head coaches Tony Sparano and Todd Haley, respectively.  This follows the Jacksonville Jaguars’ canning of Jack del Rio a couple of weeks ago.  A move like this always seems weird to me — if the season isn’t lost, why not wait until it’s over and see if the current guy can turn it around?  And if it IS lost, the only reason to boot the current fellow is to see if one of your current assistants can be The Man — but how can you tell that in only three games?  I dunno — to me it smacks of an owner trying to appease a fan base (or maybe a player base) that’s seriously disgruntled and out for blood.  “Here, tear this guy apart!”  The Owner says as he chucks the poor guy over the wall to the rampaging barbarians below, figuring that might stall them long enough for him to spirit his family out of the castle to the waiting escape ship …

Anyway, so three coaches gone, with three weeks still to go in the NFL regular season.  And it got me wondering, how many could end up gone by the time we reach the Super Bowl?  I took a few moments to look over the current standings and checked a few lifetime coaching records, and …

… and wouldja believe, as many as twelve?!?
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Penn State, and the betrayal of trust

15 November 2011

Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.  It would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck than to cause one of these little ones to stumble. (Luke 17:1-2)

For the last few days, I’ve wanted to write regarding the situation at Penn State University.  Easier said than done.  A lot of writers, far better than I and with far more information and insight, have written about it.  I won’t attempt to duplicate their work — I just have a few things that have been sitting on my chest, and that I want to get off.  Forgive me if this comes out as a jumble, but my mind is a jumble when it comes to this, so bear with me …

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Cleaning out the closet — and long overdue!

23 August 2011

Some random bits and pieces from the pages of my mind — none of them enough for a full blog post, but still worth passing on:

* Regular readers of this space know that I’m a big fan of Bill Simmons, ESPN.com’s “Sports Guy” since 2001.  Well, Bill has gone and done something new, starting his own website called Grantland.  Named after 1920s sportswriter Grantland Rice, it’s sort of a clearinghouse for feature and opinion pieces on sports, popular culture and the intersection of the two.  Besides Simmons, the featured writers include Chuck Klosterman, Malcolm Gladwell, Katie Baker, This Recording’s Molly Lambert and ESPN’s Jonah Keri, plus a half-dozen others that you may not have heard of but will become a fan of before long.  The level of authorship ranges from pretty good to excellent, they put up about a dozen pieces a day, and I probably spend more time reading it Monday-Friday than I can really afford.  But I never seem to regret it.

I just added a link to Grantland to my list o’ links on the right — or you can click here to check it out.  Try it, you might like it.

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Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Stockton ’88s!

21 March 2011

It’s spring, and in the spring a young man’s fancy turns lightly to thoughts of … fantasy baseball.

And boy, do I have a team this year.  Just on my active roster, I have seven .300 hitters and seven .500 sluggers.  My batters have hit over 2300 homers in the last twelve seasons.  In that same span, my top five starting pitchers have racked up 563 wins and more than 5300 strikeouts.  Five of my players are in the Baseball Hall of Fame, and two more are likely to go in once they’re eligible (plus another is in the Basketball Hall of Fame).

Wait, you say — Hall of Famers?  You mean you’re not using active players on your fantasy team?  What kind of wacko team is this?!?

Simple.  It’s a team in the greatest league in the world (personal opinion): Legends of Baseball.

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The joy of data processing

12 January 2011

The creation of data is a holy act; not really, but occasionally I need to feed my own caricatures. — baseball writer Bill James

Okay, I haven’t posted for six days.  Not great.  Six days really was longer than I expected to be absent from here.  Yeah, it’s not my longest absence (that one was closer to six months than six days), but still, some of you have subscribed to this space and I just don’t like to leave people hanging.

So why the extended moment of silence?  Well, two things:

  1. I’m still working on an update about my son Sean and his illness, which I thought would be the next post.  Every time I’m ready to write it, it seems like there’s something new to add (good news, almost all of it).  So now I’m aiming for next Monday, also his seventh birthday.  It’ll be worth the wait, trust me.
  2. I’m getting ready for the next fantasy baseball season, pounding stats into an Excel spreadsheet.  And having the time of my life doing it.

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A plaque for Bert Blyleven

5 January 2011

Back in early November, when the San Francisco Giants were winning the World Series, I mentioned that I had a baseball Bucket List — three things I wanted to see from the National Pastime before I die.  They were:

  1. a postseason no-hitter (thank you, Roy Halladay).
  2. a Giants World Championship (thank you, Sabean, Bochy and Co.).
  3. Bert Blyleven being elected to the Hall of Fame.

Well, I can stop rubbing the lamp, ’cause I got my three wishes.  Today the Baseball Writers Association of America announced that Blyleven (along with Roberto Alomar) would be inducted into the Hall in Cooperstown.  Congratulations, Bert!

And baseball writers … it’s about dang time!

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